Dear Amy: I am a 70 year old retiree. I am happy and I remain very active.
I do have one concern though: Every afternoon around 5 p.m., when I’m ready to sit down and enjoy my journal, I treat myself to two Scotch-and-Waters. Then when I have dinner I usually drink two glasses of wine.
After dinner I have a bottle of water or a hot cup of tea.
I am concerned about my alcohol consumption. Am I an alcoholic?
Dear concerned: Say you have a drinking problem. Why call your habitual use a “problem”? Because you are concerned enough to ask questions about it.
The newer term for alcoholism is “alcohol use disorder,” and it is defined as a physical or mental dependence on alcohol, even when its consumption causes physical or relationship problems, makes you feel sick and interferes with functioning (hope it is obvious that you should not drive a vehicle at night when drinking).
Have friends or family noticed your drinking? Do people know not to call you after 8pm because you are weak? Are you missing out on social or other opportunities because of your routine?
One obvious way to address your concerns is to cut costs. You can cut your intake in half by replacing the flavored seltzer with a cocktail and a glass of wine (drink it in your favorite glass).
A new tradition in the UK has spread to North America: dry January. This is where you start the year by abstaining from alcohol for the entire month. Abstaining for a while helps people gauge how much alcohol they usually drink, and can lead to greater awareness and healthier habits the rest of the year.
Dear Amy: I am a doctor. I am on the front line treating COVID patients. I have observed the cycle of fear, sadness and guilt when I tell a patient that they have tested positive. Once again watching the family go through their cycle of denial, anger and sadness as I give them a call to say that their loved one is indeed dying.
I know I’m not the only vendor who’s been through this, or the first time you’ve probably heard this story.
I am in a long-distance relationship with someone who is not in medicine. Since the start of this pandemic, we knew that because of our jobs, travel to see each other would be limited. I spent hours on the phone with him telling him about scenes in the hospital as if they were clips from a war movie. He cried for the state of our world.
We have a week to see each other on Thanksgiving. He would like to see his family, whom I support. But he is adamant that he will not be wearing a mask during the visit. After seeing so many patients with similar exposure stories after a family reunion, I feel like I can’t participate.
I am so disappointed with his choice not to practice public health counseling. I know I shouldn’t, but it’s hard not to take it personally, when he knows what I’ve been through as a doctor.
I know we are all struggling right now to make decisions about what feels both safe and secure when it comes to seeing our families for the holidays. But I can’t help but feel heartbroken when the mere measure of wearing a mask seems absurd.
Dear Dr Hope: I am also heartbroken in solidarity with you and your fellow first responders, and with the dozens of families for whom the holidays will not be a time of celebration, but of mourning their loss.
It is a brief moment in our history. It seems selfish, as well as short-sighted, for people to refuse to take common sense steps to protect themselves and others.
Given your situation, I can understand why you take this personally. I suppose you are frequently tested, but it is sure that your potential exposure also puts your friend and their family members at risk, making their choice even more unwise.
Dear Amy: Please ask families to save and archive old letters from family members. Soon, the present generation will no longer have much access to written documents. Emails and Facebook messages just don’t translate the way paper messages do.
Fan of letters
Dear fan: Many of us took pen and paper during the pandemic; it is a small bright spot during a difficult time.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.